Friday, February 23, 2018
News Roundup

Man arrested after Illinois runaway teen is found in Wesley Chapel

WESLEY CHAPEL — They met at the mall in her small central Illinois hometown. He came from Turkey and ran a kiosk in Bloomington. It was either June or July last year, detectives say.

She was 16. He was 39.

Tiffany kept her relationship with Sezer Gok a secret from her parents, authorities said. She began working for him. He named a new kiosk for her: Tiffany's Balloons.

Tiffany and Gok must have planned to leave, said Bloomington police Detective Tom Rena, because it all happened so fast. Gok had been working days, if not weeks, in advance to close down each of his kiosks. She left high school and family behind.

Before anyone even knew, they were gone.

"By the time we caught up with them leaving," Rena said, "we were about 10 steps behind them."

Tiffany was reported missing Nov. 12. Evidence showed she left willingly with Gok, Rena said.

At some point they were married in a Muslim religious ceremony, a Pasco sheriff's report states. They first stopped in Pittsburgh. There, the report states, Gok read a news story alleging he abducted Tiffany. He got nervous and took her to Tampa.

Tiffany never told her parents where she was, Rena said. During the two months she was missing, she called them once, just before Christmas.

Back in Bloomington, Rena worked with U.S. marshals to track Gok's location.

The couple moved to Glenwood Mobile Home Park on Habersham Lane east of Tampa. Then on Jan. 12, they rented a house at 5909 Azure Drive in Wesley Chapel.

Rena would not reveal investigative techniques, but marshals located Gok. Authorities went to the home at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and arrested him.

Investigators interviewed Tiffany, now 17, who told them she was seven weeks pregnant with Gok's child and that she was "fully committed to Muslim faith," said sheriff's spokeswoman Melanie Snow.

Tiffany was taken into child custody. Her father has since picked her up, Rena said.

Gok, now 40, remained in the Land O'Lakes jail Wednesday on charges of interfering with custody and sheltering a runaway. More charges are pending against him in Illinois.

U.S. Immigration and Customs had placed a hold on his release.

No one was home Wednesday afternoon at the light pink Wesley Chapel home with "Princess" etched into the door knocker.

A silver Jeep Cherokee with Illinois plates, listed as Gok's vehicle by Bloomington police, sat in the driveway. Duct tape covered a gash in the SUV's rear end.

On the driveway, closest to the rear passenger side of the SUV, lay a pair of girl's jeans, still folded, and a make-up case.

Contact Alex Orlando at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

Comments
The real Jefferson Memorial has a statue, but this one has a jukebox

The real Jefferson Memorial has a statue, but this one has a jukebox

The building was in its infancy when a vintage Cadillac Eldorado rumbled up the construction path. Getting out, the driver demanded to know what the finished structure was intended for.Told that it would be a private home, the driver scoffed. The uni...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the state’s safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last week’s massacre ...
Updated: 10 minutes ago

Updated: 19 minutes ago
Terminally ill Valrico man dies a month after marrying junior high sweetheart

Terminally ill Valrico man dies a month after marrying junior high sweetheart

VALRICO — During his final few days, 19-year-old Dustin Snyder moved to a hospice house, surrounded himself with belongings from home, swam in a pool and visited the beach in Ruskin.Wherever he went, the terminally ill Valrico man had family beside h...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Downtown Partnership gets initial city okay to expand north

Tampa Downtown Partnership gets initial city okay to expand north

TAMPA — The Downtowner may be heading to Tampa Heights — but not until Oct. 1.That’s because the nonprofit Tampa Downtown Partnership this week won initial City Council approval to expand into Tampa Heights."Tampa Heights is becoming an important gat...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Edward Peachey demands severance from CareerSource before stepping down

Edward Peachey demands severance from CareerSource before stepping down

Edward Peachey, the leader of Pinellas and Hillsborough career centers under multiple investigations over the way they report job placement figures, says he has no intention of stepping down unless he is paid a severance.In a letter from his attorney...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Medal haul well short of U.S. Olympic Committee projections

Medal haul well short of U.S. Olympic Committee projections

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — It was a sweeping goal, spelled out on a colorful, full-screen slide and presented to leaders of the U.S. Olympic Committee in a meeting last year. Sports executives in America targeted athletes on Team USA to win 37 medals...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Indiana man killed, two hurt as boats collide on Little Manatee River

Indiana man killed, two hurt as boats collide on Little Manatee River

RUSKIN — Two boats collided on the Little Manatee River Friday morning, killing one person and injuring two others, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.Arthur D. Showley, 75, died in the crash, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Cons...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Costs nearly double for I-75 interchange in Pasco County

Costs nearly double for I-75 interchange in Pasco County

NEW PORT RICHEY –— The cost of a diamond is getting pricier.The planned "divergent diamond" interchange, intended to ease traffic congestion at Interstate 75 and State Road 56 where Lutz, Land O’Lakes and Wesley Chapel intersect, is going to be more ...
Updated: 2 hours ago